×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘R100’

More wacky than provocative in the end, Hitoshi Matsumoto's S&M-themed item could become a cult fetish on VOD.

With:

Nao Ohmori, Mao Daichi, Shinobu Terajima, Hairi Katagiri, Ai Tominaga, Eriko Sato, Naomi Watanabe, Gin Maeda, You, Haruki Nishimoto, Suzuki Matsuo, Atsuro Watabe, Lindsay Hayward. (Japanese, English dialogue)

If a dominatrix is one who takes total control of her passive partner, then “R100” is the cinematic equivalent of a kinky femme fatale in black leather and stiletto heels, cracking a whip and a smile. At least for the film’s first half, Japanese writer-director Hitoshi Matsumoto gets a kick out of tantalizing and torturing the viewer with his tale of a meek department store salesman whose bondage-club contract for a year’s worth of sexual masochism proves unbreakable — and painful to boot. Albeit more wacky than provocative in the end, the Drafthouse Films pickup could become a cult fetish on VOD.

Matsumoto’s gigantically funny “Big Man Japan” (2007) hardly prepares one for his stylistic sadism here. So bleached of color that it’s nearly black-and-white, “R100” begins in full-on noir mode, with Takafumi Katayama (Nao Ohmori) taking a beating from a cig-smoking, trenchcoat-clad bondage queen, his bruised body tumbling down a flight of stairs in a scene that playfully recalls the S&M-inflected classic “Kiss Me Deadly.” The gag’s visual punchline is a series of cheesy CGI ripples emanating from the head of the victim, signifying his dumbfounded ecstasy.

Soon signing on for a year of such blissful degradation, Takafumi is told he’ll never know when one of the wicked dominatrices of the Bondage gentlemen’s club will bring the pain. Thus the viewer is kept on edge during languorous interludes that would appear benign if not for the threat — or promise — of sudden attack. One hilarious early scene, a showcase for Matsumoto’s razor-sharp comic timing, has Takafumi suffering the humiliation of having his sushi rolls repeatedly squished by a femme’s fist.

When the Bondage boss asks an increasingly aggrieved Takafumi, “Isn’t this what you wanted?” the nerved-up fan of hardcore genre fare becomes mindful of the “contract” he signed upon entering the theater. Alas, Matsumoto ends up tipping the meta scale a touch too hard with intermittent scenes of censors screening a movie called “R100,” directed by a century-old man in a long white beard. Eventually the film runs out of satiric steam altogether, resorting to a lame war-movie climax with Bondage’s seven-foot tall CEO (Lindsay Hayward) as a cross between a distaff Bond villain and a Third Reich heavy.

Shifting from gentle piano music to jazzy pop and ’70s-style disco, the score by Shuichi Sakamoto and Shuichiro Toki mirrors the gamut-running pic itself. Sound work periodically breaks total silence with David Lynchian blasts of noise. Other tech credits are tops.

Film Review: 'R100’

Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Spotlight), Jan. 19, 2014. (Also in Toronto Film Festival — Midnight Madness.) Running time: 99 MIN.

Production:

(Japan) A Drafthouse Films (in North America) release of a Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. production, in association with Yoshimoto Creative Agency, Phantom Films. Produced by Akihiko Okamoto. Executive producers, Hisaya Shiraiwa, Hiroshi Osaki.

Crew:

Directed, written by Hitoshi Matsumoto. Camera (color), Kazunari Tanaka; editor, Yoshitaka Honda; music, Shuichi Sakamoto, Shuichiro Toki; production designer, Etsuko Aiko; costume designers, Rie Araki, Daisuke Iga; sound, Yoshitaka Honda; visual effects supervisor, Kentaro Nishio; associate producers, Natsue Takemoto, Keisuke Konishi; assistant director, Tomohide Sano; casting, Masunobu Motokawa, Yumi Takada.

With:

Nao Ohmori, Mao Daichi, Shinobu Terajima, Hairi Katagiri, Ai Tominaga, Eriko Sato, Naomi Watanabe, Gin Maeda, You, Haruki Nishimoto, Suzuki Matsuo, Atsuro Watabe, Lindsay Hayward. (Japanese, English dialogue)

More Film

  • Aquaman 2018

    'Aquaman' Crosses $250 Million at Foreign Box Office

    Things are going swimmingly at the box office for “Aquaman” as the Warner Bros.’ superhero flick hits another major milestone overseas. James Wan’s take on the ruler of the seven seas just passed $250 million internationally, and a weekend haul of $126.4 million from 43 territories brings its foreign tally to $261.3 million. “Aquaman” — [...]

  • Mortal Engines

    'Mortal Engines' to Lose More Than $100 Million at Box Office

    “Mortal Engines,” a steampunk fantasy adventure, is also an epic flop. With a budget of just over $100 million and tens of millions in global marketing costs, executives at rival studios estimate that the movie will lose upwards of $100 million. Some even project that number could float to more than $125 million. “Mortal Engines” [...]

  • Thierry Frémaux, José Luis Rebordinos Honored

    Thierry Frémaux, José Luis Rebordinos Named Honorary Argentine Academy Members

    BUENOS AIRES — In a ceremony just before Friday’s prize announcements at Ventana Sur, Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux and José Luis Rebordinos, director of the San Sebastian Festival, were named honorary members of Argentina’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in a new move for the Academy, out through by its new president, Bernardo [...]

  • Nona

    Film Review: 'Nona'

    Twenty years and 12 features down the line, it’s still hard to peg the directorial sensibility of Michael Polish, with or without the presence of brother Mark as frequent co-writer and actor. His output has been all over the place, from early Lynchian quirkfests to the very middle-of-the-road inspirational dramedy “The Astronaut Farmer,” not to [...]

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Wins for Best Film, Director at European Film Awards

    “Cold War,” Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white romance set in the 1950s, scooped the prizes for best film, director and screenplay at the 31st edition of the European Film Awards on Saturday. “Cold War” star Joanna Kulig also won the award for best actress. Marcello Fonte, the star of Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” won for best actor. More Reviews [...]

  • The Favourite Bohemian Rapsody Star is

    The Best Movie Scenes of 2018

    When we think back on a movie that transported us, we often focus on a great scene — or maybe the greatest scene — in it. It’s natural. Those scenes are more than just defining. They can be the moment that lifts a movie into the stratosphere, that takes it to the higher reaches of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content